"Goldfish living in the proper conditions can live more than 25 years. Amazing, you think, but true."

A BUNDLE OF JOY AND MONEY

About Nina Shapiro's parenting article, "Who Says You Can't Have It All?" [Nov. 29]—what about the people who don't work at jobs that offer paternity or maternity leaves? Or where the salary is of the service-culture, $10/hour scale? As an affluent, underemployed expectant dad who's returning to school, I read the article with the growing sense that the rosy outlook is still contingent on at least one parent making a bundle.

Joel Bell

via e-mail

PET LADY PEEVES

I would like to note that fish don't just die—especially healthy goldfish [The Pet Lady, Nov. 29]. Goldfish living in the proper conditions can live more than 25 years. Amazing, you think, but true. The advice given by The Pet Lady to "East Village Pet Lover" was terrible. She instead should have noted that goldfish require 10 gallons minimum per fish, proper filtration, tank maintenance, and a varied, healthy diet.

Regardless of her hangover, she could have at least advised in the direction of a good book or Web site. "East Village Pet Lover" will now assume that all goldfish die within a matter of days and that the "proper big-round-fishbowl" was appropriate, when in reality the fish needed, at the very least, a 30-gallon tank. Fish can be wonderful pets and provide a sense of tranquility. [But] just because they are not dogs, that doesn't mean they do not require proper maintenance. Please take this into consideration.

Catherine Burgess

Shenandoah Valley, VA

The Pet Lady addresses the firestorm of goldfish-related reader mail in this issue on the last page.

ENEMY CROSSES THE LINE

Ugh, [the] movie Behind Enemy Lines is just another example of the usual mindless demonizing of the Serbs ["The Running Man," Nov. 29]. None of the [players] in the past decade of misery in the Balkans can claim to be free of egregious war crimes, least of all ourselves and our NATO stooges. At least the reviewer did a good job of panning this war-glorifying propaganda film.

R. V. Potter

Cedar Falls, IA

WINNING'S THE THING

Geov Parrish needs to move into the real world and grow up ["Food First," Nov. 22]. Prior to Sept. 11, I was generally in agreement with Parrish on most issues. I worked hard against the Vietnam war [and] for a nuclear freeze, but I had to draw the line on my utopianism post-Sept. 11. As Mike Tyson says, everybody has a plan before they get hit in the face.

Getting hit in the face is, in a nutshell, what happened to us on Sept. 11. I don't know how many school-yard fights Mr. Parrish had as a child, but after getting hit in the face, there are only two possible outcomes: You either pull yourself together quickly and win, or you take the easier course and lose. Losing, in this case, means either all of our deaths or else conversion to bin Laden's and the Taliban's brand of Islam.

In a fight, the only consideration that needs to be seriously entertained is how to win. A quick and painless win is best, but any kind will do. If winning means that a lot of Afghans starve or civilians on the ground become collateral damage, that is still preferable to losing. If you or my Muslim brothers and sisters were to ask me if I would trade every single Afghan life for the lives lost in the World Trade Center or victory in this war, I would advise: [Don't] ask questions you don't really want the answers to.

Machiavelli said it best when he stated that if the choice presented to a prince (read: nation) was between being feared or being loved, [it] was better to be feared. That is the way it is in the real world. Bin Laden understands it, the Taliban understand it, and Saddam Hussein understands it. We Americans need to understand it quickly, before we get hit in the face again.

R. Roy Blake

Seattle

A MARATHON OF LAUGHS

I just finished reading this article [Winter Guide, "Autumn, Agony, and Endorphins," Nov. 22] and literally laughed my pants off! I just finished the half-marathon myself last Sunday and saw the humor in this article. This too-proud-to-wear-a-trash-bag man [writer Michael G. Hickey] sees the irony in running—and the challenge. His comparisons and thoughts as he is running show the delirium of most runners and the necessity of endorphins in all our lives. (Did Martha Stewart really have a show on building gazebos out of cotton swabs?) His sarcastic twist of humor was refreshing and certainly started my day off with a great big smile. There indeed was a marathon walker on Sunday who was having a smoke as she finished her last two miles of the race!!! Was she a relative of Michael's?

Cathy S. Bobek

Seattle

BUSH ON TRIAL

From 1955 to 1958, I served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Hornet and as a bomb disposal officer. During that time, I served in many special court-martials as a nonlawyer. President Bush's order for secret trials scares me more than anything I faced then or since.

What would the president or Congress be saying, nay shouting, if it was reported that Saddam Hussein or bin Laden, or any country for that matter, was holding trials of American citizens: (1) secretly; (2) before his military officers; (3) without a right to cross-examine, or even know the names of, any witnesses against the defendants; (4) without the right of the public to any knowledge of the trial except maybe the sentence; (5) with the standard of proof in a death penalty case less than beyond a reasonable doubt; (6) with a guilty verdict requiring only two-thirds of the court's members; and (7) with no right of appeal of any verdict.

It sounds like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. The Uniform Code of Military Justice itself provides our soldiers every one of the rights denied in the president's order except the right to a jury.

Where will this lead us, when our proudest claim as Americans is based on the constitutional rights we each have now because our country's founders fought so hard to establish them, and that we fought major wars to protect.

The response of European leaders to the secret trials order is more evidence that the order defiles the most important things that make America a model in the eyes of those persecuted peoples of the world we most seek to lead away from terrorism and to a better life.

I fear that the order caters to the basest of instincts, not the finest, and shows no courage to do what is right for the future of all Americans and not just personally expedient.

Bert Metzger Jr.

Seattle

EXCITING TACOMA

Thanks for recognizing the Tacoma Art Museum in a recent article by [Robert] Shuster ["Southern Exposure," Nov. 29]. Tacoma is currently an exciting place to be. It has never before been so dedicated to preserving its past (e.g., in building preservation and renovation). At the same time, it has never been so forward-looking, even avant-garde. In less than two years, if all goes well, there will be in place the new art museum referred to in your article and also a new museum of glass and contemporary art, not to mention the current, too seldom visited, Washington State History Museum. These will all be within reasonable walking distance, with ample parking at the glass museum. All this should make Tacoma a destination city. Keep tuned, and keep your audience informed.

John Koehler

via e-mail

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